FEW BUILDINGS have such an eclectic history as this intimate boutique hotel — once a theatre which saw Vivaldi play to celebrate its centenary, at another time a poorhouse. Several incarnations and centuries later, the 17th century building underwent a complete refit in 1999 to open as an elegant and discreet place to stay, right by Amsterdam’s grand Keizergracht canal.
Named after Welsh writer Dylan Thomas, it might be small but service is reassuringly attentive from the moment you step through its arched entry onto the outer courtyard.
With only 40 rooms, its somewhat labyrinthine layout means room shapes differ while designs range from muted colours to ornately dressed. Those on the upper floors are reached via dark wood-pannelled corridors, eccentric in their twists and turns. Those that open onto the courtyard are duplex.
And after the hotel quickly made a name for itself as one of the city’s most chic places to stay, its new Occo bistro and bar has also become the hip place to be since it opened last year.
It’s an atmospheric space with wood floors, timbered ceilings, gorgeous dimmed lighting and dark wood bar, where the signature must-try cocktail is the Dylan Thomas. Made with Singleton whisky, Grand Marnier and vanilla, and served with a brown sugar cube which is set aflame at the table then mixed into the drink. You can’t help feeling the writer would have approved. Potent stuff.
If you’d prefer something less intoxication, go for the Vir“Gin” tonic, made with non-alcoholic gin.
With the bar in the centre, the brasserie tables wrap around the room serving food all day — smoked salmon on rye perhaps, or nibble deep fried olives with your drink.
Save one meal to discover Vinkeles, the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant featuring French cuisine with a contemporary twist — give them a little notice and they can create a special menu to cater to dietary requirements and vegetarians. Rustic with brick walls and timbered ceilings, the original cast iron ovens still remain from its early days.
As the icing sugar on the pancake, the hotel’s superb location means you’re only a short saunter from many of the city’s highlights — the eclectic shops of the Nine Streets shopping district are on the doorstep as is one of Amsterdam’s most famous canals, while Anne Frank’s House, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are all within a 15-minute walk.
From its quirky décor to equally quirky past, this is a short break with guaranteed style and stories to tell.
RATES: Rates start from around £300 per room dylanamsterdam.com